Thursday, February 18, 2016

Pioneers of Television (on DVD)

Pioneers of Television
[DVD 791.457 Pio] 


Pioneers of Television is a series of short mini-series documentaries produced for Public Television. Each of the four existing “seasons” is comprised of four hour-long episodes, each with its own theme. Season One in 2008 covered “Sitcoms”, “Late Night”, “Variety” and “Game Shows”. Season Two in 2011 covered “Science Fiction”, “Westerns”, “Crime Dramas”, and “Local Kid’s TV”. Season Three in 2013 had “Funny Ladies”, “Prime Time Soaps”, “Superheroes” and “Miniseries”, as well as a standalone episode later in the year covering “Carol Burnett and the Funny Ladies”. The last season produced was in 2014, and included “Standup to Sitcom”, “Doctors and Nurses”, “Breaking Barriers” and “Acting Funny”. Following the death of comic actor Robin Williams, a standalone 2014 episode “Remembering Robin Williams” was also shown.

Each of these is a marvelous time capsule looking back on classic eras of television entertainment, and features sit-down interviews with many of the actors, writers, producers and directors who created the television series many of us grew up on, along with extensive clips from the shows under discussion. My personal favorite episodes were the “Crime Drama”, “Science Fiction” and “Superheroes” episodes, available in a couple of the different “season” box sets. PBS also still has a huge archive of interview footage and behind-the-scenes information available on their website. If you’re looking to harken back to the early days of television (1950s through the 1980s), I recommend sampling some of these sets of the Pioneers of Television.

[ Internet Movie Database entry for this series ] | [ PBS’ official Pioneers of Television web site ]

Recommended by Scott C.
Bennett Martin Public Library

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